Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Book of Five Rings” as Want to Read:
The Book of Five Rings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Book of Five Rings

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  30,239 ratings  ·  1,218 reviews
Here is one of the most influential texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory ever to emerge from Asia. Composed in 1643 by the famed duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction. It is written not only for martial artists but fo ...more
Hardcover, 131 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Shambhala (first published May 1645)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Book of Five Rings, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jeff Stokes I am told it is, I read this edition and it felt accurate but I'm not an expert in this. I did research it some before reading it 20 years ago though.…moreI am told it is, I read this edition and it felt accurate but I'm not an expert in this. I did research it some before reading it 20 years ago though.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  30,239 ratings  ·  1,218 reviews

Sort order
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read a translation by Ashikaga Yoshiharu and Rosemary Brant. This book puzzled me in that at first glance I seem to have learned nothing else from it than how to hold a sword and attack and enemy, and obvious things like never let your enemy have a chance to recover. I'm definitely missing something, either due to the translation or my inability to read between the lines. I guess I'm supposed to reflect on it and come back to it until I "get it" if there's any wisdom in here. The book is full ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This is one of those books I've been "meaning to read" for years. There's a lot that could be said here, more than can be included in a "review".

How can one review a book that has stood the test of 5+ centuries? I think there is much of value here, I think there is much that can be learned and then misapplied by those not wise enough to understand application as well as process.

The book assumes that the one reading will have already spent much time in learning and study and plans to move on wit
I do not know how I got here. I did not even know I had this book. But I am glad I read it.
This book was written by Miyamoto Musashi, a Japanese swordsman that had his first duel when he was 13 years old. It is divided into five “rings” (earth, water, fire, wind, void) that describe strategies and principles of martial arts, with a touch of philosophy that kept me interested.

Among all the tactics that can be used, he shared his insightful thoughts on several matters. Martial arts are not just a
I first read Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings many years ago, while I was a Ph.D. candidate in California. I was intrigued by how his nine principles seemd to apply to life in general and leaders in particular, in addition to his intended audience of swordsmen. While it is not as in depth as Sun Tzu's The Art of War, he certainly added to my understanding.

His nine principles, from the translation I prefer, are as follows:

1. Do not think dishonestly
2. The Way is in training
3. Become acq
I have different expectation when l looked at the cover book. There was a modern-day white collar person mimicking ancient Japanese samurai pose. So, I have expectation there was some modern interpretation in business management based on Miyamoto Musashi's teachings.

Then I found the book's content was basically translations of ancient text, without much interpretations into modern management style. That's why I rated it only 3 star. The philosophy value itself beyond my own judgment.
John Scott
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Original Bad Ass MoFo ... in a Zen kinda way.

Bad Assedness
Despite Musashi's many admonitions to "investigate this thoroughly," I fear that I have not done so enough to truly understand or appreciate the profundity of The Book of Five Rings; however, it was interesting to read this work about swordsmanship and strategy and to think about the ways that it has been applied to business and perhaps other aspects of Japanese life. I'm not going to deny the fact that it was hard to see beyond the direct references to sword fighting and martial arts at times-- ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This book, written by a famous Japanese duelist, tells one of his relatives how to win with the sword. It is divided into five "Rings" based on five "Elements". He concentrates on Strategy and does not talk about the best guard to take or other technicalities. Many people find this book to be immoral as it espouses winning at all costs in a deadly pursuit. I regard it more as a-moral. Musashi simply never considers the question. He is simply putting down his concept of Strategy. Perhaps the mora ...more
Ali Reda
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
Swordsman Miyamoto Mausashi had written The Book of the Five Rings with a practical approach to swordsmanship, on how to use the sword, where to stand and use the sun or shadows. For him, the point of battle was not showmanship it was winning, That's why he never lost a duel.


It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of the pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways.

The Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.

In short, the Way of my school is the spirit o
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book actually has two translations by Thomas Cleary of two books from Japanese martial artists. My thoughts on both and a short comparison are below.

The Book of Five Rings is a pretty good insight into a disciplined mind and professional samurai from 17th century Japan. A lot of it is practical advice and there is some spiritual Zen leaning in there too but I would not go as far to say it is required leadership reading material in the same way as The Art of War by Sun Tzu but no martial art
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-cultures
Called the Go Rin No Sho, this treatise is eye-opening, though at times gruesome. One of the great joys of experiencing older texts is the sheer regality of the narration, so it's overall enjoyable. There are sections which are decidedly male and archaic ... like Musashi's insistence on overwhelming an enemy rather than befriending him. (Quite different from Funakoshi's precept of nonviolence in shotokan karate.)

I've included here some striking quotes, and some lists of Musashi's principles.

May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I take online instructions in Wing Chun Kung Fu ( and participate in a group on Facebook. I had posted a quote I found from Miyamoto Musashi from a different Wing Chun site. Someone recommended this, The Book of Five Rings, by the author. I responded, “I’ve read The LORD of the Rings; does that count,” to which I found no response, most likely because a humorous response contrasts with the spirit of the work (I guess).

The book, written in 1643, by the undefeated samurai,
George K.
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ο Μιγιαμότο Μουσάσι ήταν ένας από τους καλύτερους Ιάπωνες ξιφομάχους της γενιάς του και ίσως ο θρυλικότερος σαμουράι στην ιστορία, πάντα νικητής στις τουλάχιστον εξήντα μονομαχίες που συμμετείχε, και δημιουργός μιας ιδιαίτερης σχολής ξιφομαχίας και πολεμικών τεχνών. Στο τέλος της ζωής του έκατσε και έγραψε το παρόν βιβλίο, έναν οδηγό για τις ξιφομαχίες και την τέχνη του σαμουράι, στο οποίο μπορεί να διαβάσει κανείς την στρατηγική σκέψη που πρέπει να έχει ένας ξιφομάχος ή σαμουράι ώστε να βγαίνει ...more
Helena Hubert
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok so "It was amazing" is not exactly the correct reaction but it was entrancing. I read this because I was told Sister Sable is either based or borrows heavily from it. It is clear after reading that the author of Sister Sable has read A Book of Five Rings more than once and probably five stars thinks it's a-amen-mazing. But a lot of this you have to intuit because Miyamooto Mushashi was no poet and seemed to have more intuition for the sword than lucid understanding of it. But well worth readi ...more
A classic, which is about individual and tactical combat as well as spirit. It should be read in conjunction with The Art Of War.

This book describes bushido, which is reflected in much manga/anime.
Jun 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always meant to go back and read another translation of Musashi's book. This one is, as you can tell by the title, geared towards martial artists, and this ties into the whole presentation.

Perhaps I should give a little background: Musashi was a Japanese swordsman in the seventeenth century who fought in some ridiculous number of duels and won them all. He wrote a book of strategy called "The Book of the Five Rings" that is considered by many martial artists to be of a comparable worth wit
Patrick McCoy
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, japan

I have been won over by the convenience of ebooks, however, I expect that there will always be reasons to buy a book as an artifact. Case in point, is the beautiful Watkins Publishing version of Miyamoto Musashi's The Five Rings (2012) translated by David K. Groff. This wonderfully designed book is made from high quality materials and is adorned throughout by paintings, photographs, maps, scrolls, elaborate print designs including kanji, and includes intricate border designs on the pages through
B. P. Rinehart
"In Emptiness exists Good but no Evil.

Wisdom is Existence.

Principle is Existence.

The Way is Existence.

The Mind is Emptiness.

If Sun Tzu's The Art of War is the "what," The Book of Five Rings is the "how." Miyamoto was possibly Japan's greatest swordsman, in one of its most turbulent eras. He finished this book in the last year of his life when Peace and reunification had been achieved, but despite his credentials as one of the great teachers of the sword, he was never a retainer. By the time he
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, The Five Rings (c.1645) is more than just a manual on sword-fighting techniques: its Zen philosophy offers tactics and strategies as relevant to personal success today as they were to 17th-century samurai. The Five Rings speaks to every age about the essential roles of harmony and self-mastery in our lives.

Miyamoto Musashi is known in Japan as a kensi, or a "sword saint". One who has perfected the art of the sword so completely that they also
Gordan Karlic
Amazing book - if you are 16 the century samurai, otherwise limited use for its applications into a modern world.
Thought this was japanese The Art of war, kinda it is but not as good.
Cristian  Morales
El libro en sí es puro taoísmo, pero estas nociones fueron las que me gustaron un montón!

"By Void I mean that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature. When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void. "

It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first. Bows
S.N. Arly
This is a work in translation. The original was written sometime in the 1600's, yet it could have easily been written this year. There are many translations of Musashi's work, some reinterpreted for other arenas such as business. This version keeps the focus on strategy for the student of the Way of the warrior. It is applicable to martial artists who utilize weapons as well as those who do not. I will recommend it to advanced students, because on the whole it is a bit much for beginners.

As a f
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: martial-arts
OK, this is not a novel. It is a training manual for the budding swordsman written my the greatest Japanese swordsman in their history - Miyamoto Musashi. There are so many levels to this man's teachings that it is difficult to summarise. His life in itself is amazing and the subject of many written works. For me, there are two key elements to this work:
1. How to be a swords man. The practical aspects required for you to be able to handle a sword and to attain a level where you can spar with som
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay
Here is an edition littered with relevant subtext on the times Miyamoto Musashi has been living, and on his legacy. This makes for a highly entertaining and rewarding read!
This is leisure at its best.
Complementary reading : 36 Stratagems: Secret Art of War

Matching Soundtrack :
Water Buddha - Zen Bamboo Relaxation Music


Une édition truffée de commentaires précieux sur le contexte du contemporain de Miyamoto Musashi et sur sa postérité. Une lecture tout à la fois renseignée et extr
Aug 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pay no attention to my rating, as this is not a judgement on Musashi's book, but rather the audio version of the book. For me, Musashi's Book of Five Rings is a book that, after listening to it, I learned that I could only truly understand his writings by reading it and then, rereading it.

The Book of Five Rings is similar to Sun Tsu's Art of War, in that it was a book written in a different time for a different situation, but even so, it is timeless in it's applications to life, business, martia
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't know how to use a sword, don't bother. This book is often tauted by business leaders as a strategy book, in much the same way that Sun Tzu's book 'The Art of War' is tauted. The comparison is impractical. Sun-Tzu was far more a philosopher than Musashi. I took Iaido for 3 years before I could read this book. It IS good for strategy, but you don't get the metaphors without learning the sword first.
Edward Rathke
Not as interesting as I hoped, which maybe isn't surprising since violence and combat don't interest me a lot.

So it goes. I suppose I was looking for something with a deeper worldview.
Benoit Lelièvre
It's both bizarre and understandable that this book is so beloved, close to 500 years after publication.

It's a book about swordfight and rigid rules for living, which makes readers seeking the latter projecting rigid rules for living into swordfight commentary. As someone who boxed for many, many years I couldn't help but admire his prescient reading of details like timing and movement. He's so dead-on that it's tough not to projet greater purpose to his ideas. But it's still a 500 years old boo
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creo que es el libro más explícito de técnicas de pelea para vencer al enemigo que he leído. Por supuesto, muchas de ellas suenan completamente extrañas dado que no puedo imaginarlas, y él mismo menciona que leer las técnicas nunca será lo mismo a ponerlas en practica hasta dominarlas. Pero después de ver algunos dramas de samurais, y con un poco de conocimiento de artes marciales, algunas si tienen mucho sentido. Definitivamente es un manual para el guerrero, pero sirve mucho para saber cómo er ...more
Tam G
My rating does not reflect the quality of this book. It reflects my enjoyment and understanding.

This book speaks more to martial arts (including weapons use) than anything I'm into. It was interesting to port some of the advice over to chess play or other competitions. It was also interesting to think about how people break down specified physical knowledge into general theory.

"You should investigate this thoroughly."
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master
  • Secrets of the Samurai: The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan
  • Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
  • The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun
  • Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way of Modern Warrior Should Think
  • Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke
  • Karate-Do: My Way of Life
  • The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi
  • Tao of Jeet Kune Do
  • Bushido: The Soul of Japan. A Classic Essay on Samurai Ethics
  • The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts
  • Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook
  • Zen in the Martial Arts
  • Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido
  • The Bible of Karate Bubishi
  • Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai
  • Strategy
  • Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style o ...more
“there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” 497 likes
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world” 384 likes
More quotes…